Filling Out the I-9 – Back to Basics: HR-101

Where does the I-9 form fit in the HR Generalist responsibilities spectrum?

With visas being revoked by the Trump administration, it seems like a fitting time to talk about one of the most responsibilities an HR Generalist may have.

Every HR person has to start from somewhere so I will be writing a series on HR basics for people who are just getting into HR. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!

There’s been a lot of uproar over I-9s lately. AB-450 in California prevented employers from allowing ICE to enter workplace premises without a warrant.

California, in an effort to protect immigrants from being deported, enacted additional laws to protect immigrants.

The state of California is now being sued by Trump’s Justice Department for three sanctuary laws.

What is an I-9 and what does it have to do with HR?

An I-9 is a basic employment form that all employees have to fill out within 3 days of being hired at Company. HR is often the responbile department that has to complete the form.

For example, if an employee gets hired on Tuesday, then they have to have an I-9 filled out by Friday.

What if the employee is hired on Thursday?

If your employee is hired on Thursday and your business days are Monday through Friday, then you should have a form filled out by Tuesday.

Who requires the I-9?

The I-9 is a federal form that is required by the Department of Homeland Security.

My Managers Fill Out the I-9

That’s fine. But as part of the HR department, it’s your job to train your managers on how to fill out the I-9. I will be following with a post and screenshots on different items to look out for.

In the meantime, make sure that you’ve been completely trained so you know what to look out for.

Starting in a New HR Role

If you’re just starting in a new HR role, a good place to start is auditing your current I-9s that are already pre-existing.

When is an I-9 Audit Necessary?

An audit of I-9s is customarily required especially when you are entering a new role.

By doing an audit, you’re making sure one of most basic areas of HR is covered.

Fines for I-9 violations start at $375 and can go up to several thousands of dollars.

Although you can’t change how the I-9 forms were filled out before you arrived, you can show good faith that your company is trying to remain compliant

Things to Remember

If you have only 100 people or less, it is a good idea to do a full audit.

However, if you have more than 100 people, and you don’t have the manpower to do a full audit, it’s a good idea to do a spot check.

If you are doing a random audit, make sure that how you are doing the audit is truly random and not discriminatory.

An easy way to ensure randomness is to pull I-9s by random patterned number of employees (ex: every 12th employee). Do not just do an audit by name.

Where do you start?

Start by making sure that you have a separate pile of terminated employees and employees who are currently active.

  1. Focus on the active employees first. Since I had less than a hundred employees and my employees were already separated between active and non-active, I went through the binder with Post-its.
  2. Look at section 1 and make sure that it’s all filled out. If not, have the employee fill out the section they missed, sign and date their change.
  3. Look at section 2, if any changes in this section need to be made, cross out the incorrect portion and fix it. Make sure to initial and date your change.

What if Section 2 is Completely Blank?

Don’t panic, grab a current I-9, notify the employee and re-certify.

Let the employee know that you’re very sorry that the information was missed and proceed to fill in the new form.

Attach the new form to the old form and a note indicating why a new form was completed.

E-verify: Is it the Same as the I-9 Form?

E-verify is not a replacement for the I-9 form. Instead, it’s a separate system that verified directly with the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to make sure the data entered is correct.

E-verify has additional requirements and their own training program on their processes.


An I-9 audit can save you a lot of grief in the long run. And the sooner you start, the better!


But what do I know? I’m…

~Just the HR Girl

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